Friday, July 24, 2015

MAF Test

Here are the results of my MAF test. 2200 feet altitude. ~80 degrees.

A few disjointed thoughts. I started using the Maffetone method in 1996 so it's been 19 years. I've run hundreds of tests on top of coaching ~600 athletes over the past 15 years using some form or level of Maffetone training principles and seeing/ analyzing those results. So when I do a MAF test on the run (or bike) I pretty much know what the result will be, to a point, during the warm-up. That explains why this test was so brief. Just 2 miles. I ran 1 mile super easy (HR below 130) and then ran another mile again below 130 (the first mile on the screen shot) and then 2 miles at HR 140-150. I use 140-150 as my MAF range which is also synonymous with Zone 2 for me. I draw from several different methods, and heavily from experience, anytime I plan my own training and for my athletes as one size never fits all. Strict MAF using the formula would put me at 127-137. Part of my thinking with that is if I were to get a metabolic economy test I'm pretty certain it would show that my tipping point is over 160 HR. So when I'm training and using HR 140-150 I'm certain that I'm at an effort level that meets the needs of the training goal. Another purpose of MAF is to keep the effort healthful and moderate enough that I don't break down or risk injury. And that's another reason that I choose the higher range is that I'm durable. Running at 140-150 will not cause break down or injury for me. It's still too moderate.
  2 miles for the test. I ran the first mile and it was looking fine and then my pace dropped way off and by the end of mile 2 I had what I needed. There was a significant drop off in pace (1:29) which shows that I have very poor "endurance". No surprise. I could have easily ended the test at 1.25 miles (hell, I didn't even need a test to tell me that) and gotten what I needed. Even just a few miles stressed my body enough that my heart was working harder. I could have continued the test but why? To see even more shitty data? There was no need because continuing wouldn't have revealed any more useful information and also because I now have plenty of comparable data for a future test and that was really the only point of doing it. Stretching the test further would have revealed that I'm in terrible shape and my endurance sucks... duh.
  Another idea is that when I do test again and if my warm-up is correct and my first mile (or even first half mile) yields a slower pace than today's test I see little reason at all to continue. I'll stop the test immediately because I already know that the result won't be better. If I continue the test nothing in the HR data will reveal any answers or solutions or even what the problem is as the miles go on.
 That's all I have to say about that. For now.


Steve Pero said...

I've been doing MAF now for 13 years, it just a sane way to train and thanks to you and Tawnee my focus to continue this keep going. But I have to say that I've never done a MAF test and never felt the need. I just stay in a strict MAF zone of 115-125 and love it (I'm 63). Even though I'm sure I could run at a higher HR, based on your saying that it's fine to go 10 above that, I mostly stay in the lower zone. On this I recently ran a 22:41 5K on this training and a few tempo runs. Not sure what this age grades to, but at age 30 I ran a 16:32.
Anyway, without doing a MAF test, I enjoy the easy running.
Good luck with your return to training!

Lucho said...

Hey Steve- 22:41 at 63 with no specific 5k training is impressive. I always had a MAF test goal pace that helped me target goal Ironman running pace. I generally fell ~30"-35" slower than MAF. So when I hit 6:00 pace for my MAF pace I knew I could run ~2:50-2:55 for the Ironman marathon. Consistent MAF testing is useful in indicating a plateau in stimulus response but in your case it isn't necessary. The biggest benefit to testing comes when an athlete is trying MAF training for the first time and either they aren't sure if it will work or I want to see if they're a responder to the method. Typically an athlete that has reservations about MAF training will become more motivated once they do see a positive result between tests.
And speaking to the MAF +10 margin for error I find that very useful on hilly trails and for athletes that don't want to stare at their wrist constantly. It allows you relax a little bit and play around more and also run a little bit more by feel without needing to worry about deviating from the range. My main point with that is that infrequently going over MAF by 5-10 beats will not mess up your development.
Keep at it Steve!

Trev said...

I was reorganizing my RSS feeds and thought I'd check your site for action. I was delighted to see you back online again.

Vladimir said...

But do you think this aggressive HR target for "MAF" is still valid after a long hiatus? I can see how you would have the durability to run 100 miles a week at 150 bpm after having trained week in and week out for a couple of decades. But would you necessarily have the same durability and the same fat burning H) after having taken a couple of years off?

Lucho said...

Vladimir- It's only aggressive relative to 180 - age. And even if it is high I am still well below lactate threshold and also below the point at which I start to burn more carbohydrate than fat. For me an aggressive HR range would be 150-160 and even then I'd fair just fine.
If I were to ramp way up and start hitting 100 mile weeks again I would break down with fatigue, so I'm not as fit, but I don't really call that "durability". Injury avoidance is what I call durability, of which experience and patience play a role. I won't get injured because I am patient and will step back if needed. But my structure is rock solid and running at 140-150 rather than 130-140 won't increase risk substantially. 140-150 is still quite light in terms of effort.
And as far as fat burning goes I'm still at the very pointy end of that spectrum. Daily diet determines this far more than training intensity. About ~80% of fat burning economy is from daily diet with ~20% coming from training. I can get away with eating very little because I'm fat adapted... because I eat very little. And remember too that 140-150 is still ~10-20 beats lower than my tipping point.